Throughout my library branch, we have our state’s truancy law posted which basically says that anyone age 15 and younger should be in school from 7a-2p or have appropriate documentation if they are at the library during these hours.

To be honest, when we posted the policy and started asking student visitors their age and/or documentation of a legitimate school absence (being homeschooled would be included as well), I thought it went beyond what we should do as a library. Particularly if they were using the library for its intended purpose; i.e. reading, Internet, checking out materials, etc. It almost felt too invasive to ask their age and documentation.

Fortunately it made sense to me over time, especially when truancy officers would come to the library or we’d come into a situation where a teen was skipping school to fulfill their online gaming addiction at the library.

When we get to know the teens and develop more of a relationship with them, to understand their situation, it also goes a long way toward helping enforce the policy. Oftentimes, we may be in a position to talk through making better choices, or just to let them know we’re there to help with library resources, if they need it.

Each library is different. What does your library do to enforce your state’s truancy law (if applicable)?

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

One Thought on “30 Days of Back to School: Teen Truancy

  1. We don’t have a state truancy law and we are in a community where the teens are locked out of there houses when they’re out sick, suspended or expelled. We don’t condone truancy, but I feel like if we start asking for identification, etc. during school hours, this does violate their privacy. We’re a public building and a safe place for the teens in our community if they can’t be at school or at home.

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